Video on demand (VOD)
Video on demand (VOD)
Video on demand (VOD) is a content distribution system that allows users to select and watch video content at their convenience without limitations to a specific device or broadcasting schedule. With VODs, users can access a wide range of content, from movies and TV shows to miscellaneous video content.

What is video on demand (VOD)? 

Unlike traditional TV channels, with VOD platforms, content is readily available for users to watch. They don’t have to follow a set broadcasting schedule and can choose what they want to watch and when to watch it. Users can also pause, rewind, fast-forward, or stop the video as they wish. Thousands of content are available for streaming, ranging from movies, TV shows, documentaries, and short clips, to other miscellaneous video content, and they are accessible through several methods including the internet, cable or satellite TV. 

Nowadays, most VODs are in the form of an app and can be accessed by any device that has an internet connection like smartphones, tablets, and computers. This on-demand, flexible video streaming technology has gained immense popularity over the years and continues to grow as digital technology expands. 

How do VODs work?

Initially, VODs referred to video content that could be viewed at any time upon a user’s request, including in cable networks and satellite TVs. Today, most VODs operate as long as users have access to the internet as numerous over-the-top (OTT) platforms provide VOD streaming services to deliver on demand video content. Hence, whenever a user wishes to stream something, they simply have to launch the VOD app on their preferred device, and users can freely search for any type of content they wish to watch to play the content within seconds. 

Most VOD platforms today are subscription based, pay-per-view, or ad-included for monetization purposes. Furthermore, most users are able to create a personal account on the VOD platform that keeps track of their watch history and offers personalized recommendations on what to watch.

Benefits of using VODs 

Fully customizable streaming experience

VOD users have full autonomy in when, where, and how they stream video content, which makes it increasingly convenient. There are various ways users can customize their view settings based on their preferences and requirements, which brings no limit to user accessibility. Not everyone can afford a TV or manage to stay fixed in the living room for hours waiting for their favorite show to start. VODs resolve these issues and transcend the limitations of traditional TV, giving viewers a personalized and immersive experience that is unique to everyone. 

Quality & variety in content 

Unlike live broadcasts which are prone to mistakes and bloopers, most VOD content is pre-recorded or uploaded as finalized videos. Hence, content creators can easily edit and record content until it is ready to be produced. Furthermore, TV shows produced under traditional broadcasting channels have to follow certain content or editing restrictions, but VOD platforms may offer more flexibility in terms of content creation guidelines. VOD platforms work with a variety of independent creators, organizations, and enterprises to acquire their pre-produced content. Thus, it is more difficult to set a centralized guideline, and in turn, creators have more freedom in the creative direction of their videos. As a result, users are offered more quality and variety in what they can stream, which can attract a diverse range of viewers.

VOD vs. OTT vs. CTV

VODs, OTTs, and connected TVs (CTVs) are all interconnected when it comes to streaming online TV and video content and may be confusing to distinguish the differences between each. Here is a brief explanation of how each is used:

  • Video on demand (VOD) signifies any type of video that can be viewed by users at their convenience, without time constraints. As mentioned above, VODs technically have two branches, which are cable supported VODs and internet streaming VODs (=OTT platforms).
  • Over-the-top (OTT) is the mechanism that enables videos to be delivered using the internet. OTT platforms are what people use to access the various VOD and streaming content. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are OTT platforms. 
  • Connected TV (CTV) is an internet-connected device that is used to access content from OTT platforms. Devices like Apple TV, PlayStation, and Amazon Fire TV are examples of CTVs.

For instance, an individual can use Apple TV (CTV) to launch Netflix (OTT) and stream the show  “Friends,” which is offered as VOD content.

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